Obituary for George W. Blair: 1921-2020
George W. Blair, longtime Sturgis area rancher and former state legislator, passed away on January 1, 2020. He was born in Sturgis on August 24, 1921, to Harry and Elizabeth (Johnson) Blair and grew up on the family ranch in Pleasant Valley, graduating from Sturgis High School in 1939. After World War II broke out, he began taking flying lessons from the legendary Clyde Ice in Spearfish and attending classes at Black Hills State. It was there that he met his future wife, Viola, in Algebra class. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and flew 47 missions as the pilot of a B-25 in the Pacific Theater. On his final mission, his plane was shot down and he had to ditch in the South China Sea. He and his crew were rescued by a U.S. submarine. Following the war, he married his college sweetheart, Viola, and they ranched in Harding County, SD, before moving to his childhood home in Pleasant Valley.
George was active in many state and local organizations throughout his life. In 1978, he was elected to the SD House of Representatives and served 4 terms in Pierre. Integrity, courage, and determination were hallmarks of his character.
He is survived by eight children: Janet Pharr, Mary Beth (Brian) Cornelius, Nancy (Galen) Remington, Gayle (Russ) Urban, Jerry (Kim) Blair, Kathleen (Jeff) Skalbeck, Ann (Gary) Uhde, and Jeff (Cindy) Blair; 26 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and a sister, Mary Tech.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Viola, in 2002; his oldest son, John, in 1978; and his older sister, Evelyn Brown, in 2016.
Visitation will be 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, January 5, 2020, at Kinkade Funeral Chapel in Sturgis.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, January 6, 2020, at the First Presbyterian Church in Sturgis. Burial, with military honors, will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery.
Memorials will be directed to the First Presbyterian Church in Sturgis, and the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish.